We should do only those righteous actions which we cannot stop ourselves from doing.
The Great Beast is the only object of idolatry , the only ersatz of God , the only imitation of something which is infinitely far from me and which is I myself.
I suffer more from the humiliations inflicted by my country than from those inflicted on her.
Rome is the Great Beast of atheism and materialism, adoring nothing but itself. Israel is the Great Beast of religion. Neither one nor the other is likable. The Great Beast is always repulsive.
The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but lest, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry.
More than in any other performing arts the lack of respect for acting seems to spring from the fact that every layman considers himself a valid critic.
When once a certain class of people has been placed by the temporal and spiritual authorities outside the ranks of those whose life has value, then nothing comes more naturally to men than murder.
Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty.
Purity is the power to contemplate defilement.
If it were conceivable that in obeying God one should bring about one's own damnation whilst in disobeying him one could be saved, I should still choose the way of obedience.
Official history is a matter of believing murderers on their own word.
The most important part of teaching is to teach what it is to know.
Every perfect life is a parable invented by God.
There is one, and only one, thing in modern society more hideous than crime namely, repressive justice.
If you want to know what a man is really like, take notice of how he acts when he loses money.
The poison of skepticism becomes, like alcoholism, tuberculosis, and some other diseases, much more virulent in a hitherto virgin soil.
Nothing can have as its destination anything other than its origin. The contrary idea, the idea of progress, is poison.
It sometimes happens that a thought, either formulated to oneself or not formulated at all, works secretly on the mind and yet has but little direct influence over it.
The development of the faculty of attention forms the real object and almost the sole interest of studies.
The virtue of hope is an orientation of the soul towards a transformation after which it will be wholly and exclusively love.
Oppression that is clearly inexorable and invincible does not give rise to revolt but to submission.
To claim that theft or adultery or lying are "evil" simply reflects our degraded idea of good---that it has something to do with respect for property, respectability, and sincerity.
What is surprising is not that oppression should make its appearance only after higher forms of economy have been reached, but that it should always accompany them.
A beautiful woman looking at her image in the mirror may very well believe the image is herself. An ugly woman knows it is not.
The real sin of idolatry is always committed on behalf of something similar to the State.
Imagination is always the fabric of social life and the dynamic of history. The influence of real needs and compulsions, of real interests and materials, is indirect because the crowd is never conscious of it.
To die for God is not a proof of faith in God. To die for an unknown and repulsive convict who is a victim of injustice, that is a proof of faith in God.
If three steps are taken without any other motive than the desire to obey God, those three steps are miraculous; they are equally so whether they take place on dry land or on water.
All the goods of this world...are finite and limited and radically incapable of satisfying the desire that perpetually burns within us for an infinite and perfect good.
Everything without exception which is of value in me comes from somewhere other than myself, not as a gift but as a loan which must be ceaselessly renewed.
It is an eternal obligation toward the human being not to let him suffer from hunger when one has a chance of coming to his assistance.
Friendship is a miracle by which a person consents to view from a certain distance, without coming any nearer, the very being who is as necessary to him as food.
Contradiction is the lever of transcendence.
Love is not consolation, it is light.
To get power over is to defile. To possess is to defile.
Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.
Every atheist is an idolater- unless he is worshipping the true God in his impersonal aspect. The majority of the pious are idolaters.
It is not through the way in which someone speaks about God that I can see whether that person has passed through the crucible of Divine Love, but through the way the person speaks to me about things here on earth.
A science which does not bring us nearer to God is worthless.
Attentiveness is the heart of prayer.
The full expression of personality depends upon its being inflated by social prestige; it is a social privilege.
The struggle between the opponents and defenders of capitalism is a struggle between innovators who do not know what innovation to make and conservatives who do not know what to conserve.
War is the supreme form of prestige.
A hurtful act is the transference to others of the degradation which we bear in ourselves.
An atheist may be simply one whose faith and love are concentrated on the impersonal aspects of God.
Religion as a source of consolation is an obstacle to true faith.
Petroleum is a more likely cause of international conflict than wheat.
Algebra and money are essentially levelers; the first intellectually, the second effectively.
Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude.
The miser deprives himself of his treasure because of his desire for it.
The only way into truth is through one's own annihilation; through dwelling a long time in a state of extreme and total humiliation.
Humility is attentive patience.
Meditation on the chance which led to the meeting of my mother and father is even more salutary than meditation on death.
There are only two sorts of greatness: true greatness, which is of a spiritual order, and the old, old lie of world conquest. Conquest is an ersatz greatness.
It is human misery and not pleasure which contains the secret of the divine wisdom.
Academic work is one of those fields which contain a pearl so precious that it is worth while to sell all our possessions, keeping nothing for ourselves, in order to be able to acquire it.
It is precisely those artists and writers who are most inclined to think of their art as the manifestation of their personality who are in fact the most in bondage to public taste.
If Germany, thanks to Hitler and his successors, were to enslave the European nations and destroy most of the treasures of their past, future historians would certainly pronounce that she had civilized Europe.
In the Church, considered as a social organism, the mysteries inevitably degenerate into beliefs.
The instruments of power -- arms, gold, machines, magical or technical secrets -- always exist independently of him who disposes of them, and can be taken up by others. Consequently all power is unstable.
Science is voiceless; it is the scientists who talk.
The sea is not less beautiful in our eyes because we know that sometimes ships are wrecked by it.
Nothing is less instructive than a machine.
Evil being the root of mystery, pain is the root of knowledge.
There is an easiness in salvation which is more difficult to us than all our efforts.
The speed with which bureaucracy has invaded almost every branch of human activity is something astounding once one thinks about it.
The mysteries of faith are degraded if they are made into an object of affirmation and negation, when in reality they should be an object of contemplation.
Gregorian chant, Romanesque architecture, the Iliad , the invention of geometry were not, for the people through whom they were brought into being and made available to us, occasions for the manifestation of personality.
It is grace that forms the void inside us and it is grace that can fill the void.
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
The payment of debts is necessary for social order. The non-payment is quite equally necessary for social order. For centuries humanity has oscillated, serenely unaware, between these two contradictory necessities.
We cannot take a single step toward heaven. It is not in our power to travel in a vertical direction. If however we look heavenward for a long time, God comes and takes us up.
God is rich in mercy. I know this wealth of His with the certainty of experience. I have touched it.
It is good to reflect about whatever forces us to come out of ourselves. I have difficulty in imagining how it can be that you really have some friendship for me; but as you apparently have, it may be for this purpose.
There is no detachment where there is no pain. And there is no pain endured without hatred or lying unless detachment is present too.
Affliction compels us to recognize as real what we do not think possible.
It is only by entering the transcendental, the supernatural, the authentically spiritual order that man rises above the social. Until then, whatever he may do, the social is transcendent in relation to him.
A self-respecting nation is ready for anything, including war, except for a renunciation of its option to make war.
The beauty of the world is Christ's tender smile for us coming through matter.
The notion of obligations comes before that of rights, which is subordinate and relative to the former. A right is not effectual by itself, but only in relation to the obligation to which it corresponds.
In this world we live in a mixture of time and eternity. Hell would be pure time.
There is nothing that comes closer to true humility than the intelligence. It is impossible to feel pride in one's intelligence at the moment when one really and truly exercises it.
We must prefer real hell to an imaginary paradise.
He who has not God in himself cannot feel His absence.
All the tragedies which we can imagine return in the end to the one and only tragedy: the passage of time.
We must love all facts, not for their consequences, but because in each fact God is there present.
To love purely is to consent to distance, it is to adore the distance between ourselves and that which we love.
Whenever one tries to suppress doubt, there is tyranny .
Charity. To love human beings in so far as they are nothing. That is to love them as God does.
If a young girl is being forced into a brothel she will not talk about her rights. In such a situation the word would sound ludicrously inadequate.
You could not have wished to be born at a better time than this, when everything is lost.
Electra weeping for the dead Orestes. If we love God while thinking that he does not exist, he will manifest his existence.
In the intellectual order, the virtue of humility is nothing more nor less than the power of attention.
To be a hero or a heroine, one must give an order to oneself.
In solitude we are in the presence of mere matter (even the sky, the stars, the moon, trees in blossom), things of less value (perhaps) than a human spirit. Its value lies in the greater possibility of attention.
To write the lives of the great in separating them from their works necessarily ends by above all stressing their pettiness, because it is in their work that they have put the best of themselves.
The highest ecstasy is the attention at its fullest.
We only possess what we renounce; what we do not renounce escapes from us.
We are like horses who hurt themselves as soon as they pull on their bits -- and we bow our heads. We even lose consciousness of the situation, we just submit. Any re-awakening of thought is then painful.
Beauty always promises, but never gives anything.
Every being cries out in silence to be read differently. Do not be indifferent to these cries.
The only great spirit of our time.
We can only know one thing about God -- that he is what we are not. Our wretchedness alone is an image of this. The more we contemplate it, the more we contemplate him.
The contemporary form of true greatness lies in a civilization founded upon the spirituality of work.
To set up as a standard of public morality a notion which can neither be defined nor conceived is to open the door to every kind of tyranny.
When a contradiction is impossible to resolve except by a lie, then we know that it is really a door.
It is to the prodigals...that the memory of their Father's house comes back. If the son had lived economically he would never have thought of returning.
I would suggest that barbarism be considered as a permanent and universal human characteristic which becomes more or less pronounced according to the play of circumstances.
No human being escapes the necessity of conceiving some good outside himself towards which his thought turns in a movement of desire, supplication, and hope.
Our science is like a store filled with the most subtle intellectual devices for solving the most complex problems, and yet we are almost incapable of applying the elementary principles of rational thought.
The capacity to give one's attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle. Nearly all those who think they have the capacity do not possess it.
In what concerns divine things, belief is not appropriate. Only certainty will do. Anything less than certainty is unworthy of God.
The whole of our civilization is founded on specialization, which implies the enslavement of those who execute to those who coordinate.
Stars and blossoming fruit-trees: utter permanence and extreme fragility give an equal sense of eternity.
Love: To feel with one's whole self the existence of another being.
Humanism was not wrong in thinking that truth, beauty, liberty, and equality are of infinite value, but in thinking that man can get them for himself without grace.
The joy of learning is as indispensable in study as breathing is in running.
The joy of learning is as indispensable in study as breathing is in running. Where it is lacking there are no real students, but only poor caricatures of apprentices who, at the end of their apprenticeship, will not even have a trade.
All sins are attempts to fill voids.
There are only two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction.
Punishment is a vital need of the human soul.
The glossy surface of our civilization hides a real intellectual decadence.
The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say, "What are you going through?
Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention.
God's love for us is not the reason for which we should love him. God's love for us is the reason for us to love ourselves.
It is only from the light which streams constantly from heaven that a tree can derive the energy to strike its roots deep into the soil. The tree is in fact rooted in the sky.
The simultaneous existence of opposite virtues in the soul like pincers to catch hold of God.
Difficult as it is really to listen to someone in affliction, it is just as difficult for him to know that compassion is listening to him.
Every kind of reward constitutes a degradation of energy.
There are two atheisms of which one is a purification of the notion of God.
True definition of science: the study of the beauty of the world.
Every time that I think of the crucifixion of Christ, I commit the sin of envy.
Whatever debases the intelligence degrades the entire human being.
Equality is the public recognition, effectively expressed in institutions and manners, of the principle that an equal degree of attention is due to the needs of all human beings.
Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul.
The contradictions the mind comes up against, these are the only realities, the criterion of the real. There is no contradiction in what is imaginary. Contradiction is the test of necessity.